A noticeable decline in birdseed consumption in our back yard has us wondering: what’s changed?
There’s a new cat prowling the neighborhood, and we’ve had a couple of Santa Ana wind events. The birdseed didn’t smell rancid. Why the downturn in our feeder traffic?
This juvenile red-tailed hawk might be a key.
Notice that it is standing on one leg. Eventually, this bird flew to our patio to inspect the premises and I saw two sets of yellow talons.
Also, check out the space on the beak where it joins the forehead. Known as a cere, it changes color during breeding season for mature raptors. This hawk’s bill has a blue-gray color which will turn to yellow when mature.
Based on plumage color, and Sibley’s Birds of the West, this bird is a juvenile red-tailed hawk. Cornell University’s All About Birds takes it a step further and identifies this subspecies as Adult Light Morph (calurus alascensis). Where’s the red tail? We see the subtle bands of color on the underside of this bird’s tail feathers. In the next year or two, the cinnamon-red hue should be visible.
In movie soundtracks, when a call is needed to accompany the visual of a bald eagle, it is the sound of the red-tailed hawk that is dubbed in its place.